The Original Nubian Queens

The Greco-Roman term for an African queen or “royal woman” is Kandake, kadake or kentake, often Latinised as Candace. Contemporary Greek and Roman sources treat it as a title. Several ruling queens of the ancient Kingdom of Kush, with its capital at Meroë, bore the title, although it may have been a general title for women of the royal family. It is often taken to mean “queen-mother” or “mother of the reigning king”, but although this was the common status of ruling kandakes, the term itself did not have this specific meaning. 

Kandakes of Kush

Pyramid of Amanitore

Today, we highlight the story of the great Candace of Nubia, Amanishaketo who reigned from around 10 BC to 1 AD.  Candace Amanishaketo was an extremely wealthy and powerful queen.  She built considerable pyramids and temples at Wad Ban Naqa, where she was buried with great treasures.  Her residence and several temples were based there.  Her palace is one of the largest treasures identified in that region.  It was 61 m long, and covered an area of  3700 m2 with the ground floor made up of over 60 rooms.  The palace originally had a second floor as indicated by the remains of columns found on the ground floor, and may have contained an atrium or other structure.

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Inside Amanishakheto’s grave, the Italian treasure hunter Ferlini discovered an amazing quantity of golden artifacts such as armlets, necklaces.  The treasure found (or what has been recovered) contained ten bracelets, nine shield rings, sixty seven signet rings, two armbands, and an extraordinary number of loose amulets and necklaces, especially made for queen Amanishakheto created by Nubian artists from her kingdom.  Some of her treasures (stolen by Ferlini) are now on display at the Egyptian Museum of Berlin, and at the Egyptian Museum of Munich.

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Amanishakheto defeated a Roman Army sent by the first emperor of the Roman empire, Augustus, (who broke a peace treaty) to conquer Nubia.  She was a strong, and powerful woman, and a great pyramid builder.  Her tomb at Meroë was one of the largest ever built.  She is often depicted on pyramid murals as a massive, powerful woman, covered with jewels, elaborate fringed, tasseled robes, and carrying weapons in one hand, preparing to lead her army against others. Enjoy the video below on Amanishakheto, the great warrior queen of Nubia, also have a look at The Treasures of Queen Amanishakheto.


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